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BACKGROUND: Obesity and early menarche have been associated with asthma. In this report, we assess the association of asthma with BMI and with changes in BMI from childhood to early adulthood. In addition, we determine if, in girls, any observed association of asthma with menarche can be explained by BMI. METHODS: In a large national birth cohort, the associations of asthma at age 7, 11, 16 and 33 years with BMI, and of, asthma at age 33 years with changes in BMI from age 7 to age 33 years was assessed using logistic and mixed effects models as appropriate. Associations of asthma with age of menarche in girls were similarly assessed with and without adjustment for BMI. RESULTS: Information on asthma, BMI, onset of menarche and confounders at all assessments was available for 1968 girls and 2223 boys. Obesity was relatively uncommon (<2%) in childhood. Overweight (BMI 25+) girls had more asthma. Girls with early menarche were more likely to be overweight. At age 11 years, asthma was associated with early menarche (OR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.17-2.47, after adjustment for BMI OR = 1.60, 95% CI 1.10-2.34). Across all ages, asthma was significantly associated with BMI (OR = 1.50, 95% CI 1.18-1.90) but not with early menarche (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 0.95-1.63). CONCLUSION: Asthma is more common in overweight girls. Early menarche is more common in overweight girls but this does not explain its association with asthma at age 11 years. Early menarche is not a risk factor for asthma at age 33 years in this cohort.

Original publication




Journal article


J Asthma

Publication Date





751 - 758


Adult, Asthma, Body Mass Index, Cohort Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Menarche, Multivariate Analysis, Overweight, Prevalence, United Kingdom